Key Insights from MRS Technology & Data summit

Featuring speakers from backgrounds as diverse as architecture, dance and film, this year’s Technology and Data summit gave us a lot to think about. Having chewed it all over, 3 strong themes stood out for us.

Technology set to play an even bigger role in unpicking shopping behaviour

Summarising the day, Ipsos MORI’s Claire Emes warned of the dangers of ‘shiny new tool syndrome’, but added that there’s no denying the world of research is better equipped with technology than ever before. We now have copious amounts of kit to help us understand the customer; from galvanic skin-response sensors that measure emotion via sweat-level changes, to small, head-mounted cameras that isolate the differences between shoppers’ claimed behaviour and real actions. With clients increasingly keen to get inside the minds of consumers, the need to understand where these methodologies can add value will only increase. 

‘Big data’ still very much on the agenda

Big data is nothing new, nor is the struggle that many organisations face in leveraging it. 500 million Tweets and 4.5bn Facebook likes are generated each day; CRM databases are deeper and more detailed than ever. Unifying this information with other data sources, survey responses and qualitative research remains the Holy Grail; one that will increasingly be required of researchers and data professionals. As a panellist remarked, market researchers will continue to move away from being simply ‘data collectors’ and will instead evolve into ‘data integrators’.

Ethical use of data and maintaining respondent trust is key 

As Spiderman was, almost, once told; ‘with great data comes great responsibility’! How much data do our clients hold on each of their customers? How much data is held on them elsewhere? Do consumers understand what data third parties have access to? These are all questions that are likely to become more important – particularly as emerging data sources such as biometrics become more prevalent. Sensum co-founder Gawain Morrison spoke passionately about the ideas of value exchange, trust and transparency, and how market research can help shape best practice in this field. Taking a proactive position could well be central to protecting the privileged relationship market researchers share with respondents.